When the State Mirrors the Family: The Design of Pension Systems

50 Pages Posted: 7 Oct 2010

See all articles by Vincenzo Galasso

Vincenzo Galasso

University of Lugano; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Paola Profeta

Bocconi University - Department of Policy Analysis and Public Management; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 30, 2010

Abstract

This paper studies the transmission mechanism from family culture to economic institutions, by analyzing the impact of the within family organization on the original design of the public pension systems. We build a simple OLG model with families featuring either weak or strong internal ties. When pensions systems are initially introduced, in society with strong ties they replicate the tight link between generations by providing earnings related benefits; whereas in societies with weak family ties they only act as a safety net. To test this transition mechanism, we consider Todd (1982) historical classification of family types across countries. We find that in societies dominated by absolute nuclear families (i.e., weak family ties), pension systems act as a flat safety net entailing a large within-cohort redistribution, and viceversa in societies characterized by stronger family ties where pension systems are more generous. This link between the type of families and the design of pension systems is robust to testing for alternative explanations, such as legal origin, religion, urbanization and democratization of the country at the time of their introduction. Interestingly, historical family types matter for explaining the design of the pension systems, which represents a persistent feature, but not their size, which have largely changed over time.

Keywords: culture, institutions, historical evidence

JEL Classification: Z10, Z13, N30, H10, H55

Suggested Citation

Galasso, Vincenzo and Profeta, Paola, When the State Mirrors the Family: The Design of Pension Systems (September 30, 2010). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 3191. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1687588

Vincenzo Galasso

University of Lugano ( email )

Via Giuseppe Buffi 13
Lugano, 6900
Switzerland

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Paola Profeta (Contact Author)

Bocconi University - Department of Policy Analysis and Public Management ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, 20136
Italy

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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